Every business starts with the spark of an idea. For me, it was an unmissable headline that seemed like it was speaking just to me. It was 2006 and I was reading the New York Times while I nursed my six-month-old. The article by journalist Jodi Kantor documented the two-class system that had emerged around breastfeeding.
Stay-at-home mothers—or women with autonomy and supportive employers—could continue to breastfeed after returning to work, but many new parents returned to work shortly after giving birth and were not able to meet the recommended breastfeeding milestones. As with so many other health issues, breastfeeding had become a tiered class system where health begets health, wealth begets wealth.
I had my own office at work where I could pump, as well as supportive family and friends who understood the importance of breastfeeding. But I saw others who didn’t have private places to pump or who lacked family support, and they were often unable to meet their breastfeeding goals.
However, when I traveled for work, I had the all-too-often demoralizing experience of sitting in a bathroom stall in an airport or convention center making milk for my baby in a place designed for the exact opposite human function. There had to be a better way.
I found an ally and co-founder in Christine Dodson, my coworker at the design studio where we both worked. We began to incubate our idea for easy-to-install freestanding lactation spaces that would provide breastfeeding parents with a private oasis to pump or nurse when they were at work or on the go.
The business case for our brand, Mamava, was made in 2010 when a provision under the Affordable Care Act called “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” mandated that most employers must provide break time for nursing parents and a place other than a bathroom to express breastmilk.
The First Mamava Pod
In 2013 we placed our first prototype of a Mamava freestanding lactation space in the Burlington International Airport and the story was picked up nationally and even internationally. While it was intentionally designed for privacy and comfort for parents, it was also designed with facilities in mind with its quick implementation, easy cleaning, and flexible placement.
At the time, however, all we had was a rudimentary website with a phone number. We began to get calls from parents wanting to support us, manufacturers wanting to build the units, and, most importantly, customers wanting to buy them. Christine and I were still working at the design studio full-time, but our interest and energy for the idea were indisputable.
Leaders in Lactation Space Design
In 2015 we officially launched Mamava with a mission to create a healthier society through infrastructure and support for breastfeeding. We continue to grow our team and evolve our pods every year. Today, we offer a full line of lactation space solutions designed to fit every space and situation.
We have placed over 3,500 Mamava pods around the country in airports, stadiums, hospitals, schools, museums, and more. From the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to SoFi Stadium in California, we’re ensuring that breastfeeding parents have private spaces to express milk wherever they go.
Our pods are designed, engineered, and assembled at Mamava Manufacturing, our production facility in Springfield Vermont. We also provide breastfeeding resources for employers, organizations, and people who are pumping and nursing, including a free app that helps folks find thousands of lactation spaces wherever they go.
Thanks to partners who share in our purpose of celebrating and supporting breastfeeding, every day, we’re closer to a future where there is a dignified lactation space anywhere a parent may go. Join us in this mission.
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